Preparing for Back to School as a Foster Family: Setting the Stage for a Successful Academic Year

August 2, 2023

Side view of youthful African American schoolboy and his classmates working in front of laptops while sitting in row by desk

As the summer months come to an end, it’s time for foster families to prepare for the back-to-school season. Whether you’re a seasoned foster parent or a newcomer to the system, getting ready for the new academic year can be both exciting and challenging. This blog post will provide valuable insights and practical tips for foster families to ensure a smooth and successful transition into the back-to-school routine, setting the stage for a fulfilling academic journey for every child in your care.

1. Create a Supportive and Nurturing Environment

Starting a new school year can be daunting for foster children, as they may be adjusting to a new home, new caregivers, and potentially a new school. It is crucial to create a supportive and nurturing environment that encourages open communication and a sense of belonging:

  • Foster a culture of empathy and understanding, allowing children to express their fears or anxieties about the upcoming school year.
  • Listen actively to their concerns and provide reassurance that you will be there to support them every step of the way.
  • Encourage a positive attitude towards learning, emphasizing that school is a place for growth, friendship, and discovery.

2. Gather Essential Documents and Information

Before the school year begins, ensure you have all the necessary documents and information to facilitate a seamless enrollment process:

  • Collect academic records, including report cards, transcripts, and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), if applicable.
  • Keep important identification documents, such as birth certificates and Social Security cards, in a safe and easily accessible place.
  • Obtain medical records and emergency contact information to share with the school.

3. Communicate with School Staff

Establishing a good working relationship with school staff is crucial for fostering a supportive learning environment for foster children:

  • Inform the school administration about the foster care arrangement and any specific needs or considerations for the child.
  • Schedule a meeting with teachers, counselors, and administrators to discuss the child’s academic history, strengths, challenges, and any support services required.
  • Advocate for the child’s educational needs and ensure they are placed in appropriate classes or programs that suit their abilities and interests.

4. Prepare for Back-to-School Supplies

Shopping for back-to-school supplies is an exciting time for children. To make the experience enjoyable and stress-free:

  • Create a back-to-school shopping list with input from the child, allowing them to choose some of their supplies, such as a backpack or notebooks, to personalize their belongings.
  • Take advantage of back-to-school sales and discounts to save on expenses.
  • Consider purchasing some extra supplies to have on hand throughout the school year.

Mother Helping Son With Homework Sitting At Desk In Bedroom

5. Establish a Consistent Routine

Consistency and structure are essential for children in foster care, especially during times of transition like the beginning of the school year:

  • Establish a daily routine that includes designated study time, extracurricular activities, and consistent mealtimes.
  • Create a bedtime routine that allows for sufficient rest and rejuvenation, ensuring children are well-rested and ready to learn.

6. Address Emotional and Social Needs

For many foster children, building relationships and making friends can be challenging. Encourage their social and emotional well-being:

  • Facilitate opportunities for the child to meet and interact with peers before the school year begins, such as attending community events or joining sports teams.
  • Engage in regular conversations about their feelings and experiences, ensuring they feel supported and understood.
  • Offer praise and encouragement for their efforts and achievements, fostering a positive self-image.

7. Foster a Love for Learning

Inspire a love for learning in your foster child by making education an enjoyable and fulfilling experience:

  • Read together and engage in discussions about books or topics that interest the child.
  • Encourage curiosity and exploration, allowing the child to pursue their interests and passions.
  • Celebrate academic achievements, both big and small, to reinforce a positive attitude towards education.

Preparing for back to school as a foster family requires patience, empathy, and thoughtful planning. By creating a supportive and nurturing environment, gathering essential documents, communicating effectively with school staff, and establishing consistent routines, you can set the stage for a successful academic year for your foster child. Remember that each child is unique, and the back-to-school experience may vary for each one. The key is to provide a safe and loving home where they feel empowered to learn, grow, and thrive academically and emotionally. As you embark on this new school year together, celebrate the milestones, cherish the memories, and continue to be a pillar of support and encouragement for your foster child’s educational journey.

Learn More
Impact Report
Download PDF
Learn More